This is a beginner's guide to professions. One of the most reliable ways to earn gold in World of Warcraft is through using professions wisely. However, to a new player, the profession system can seem very complex and overwhelming. Although there is a lot to learn, all professions follow a few simple rules.
Basic types of professions, part 1
Professions are either primary professions or secondary professions. Every character can have up to two primary professions at a time. If you want to learn a different primary profession after you have learned two, you can unlearn one or both of the ones you know. All of your progress in the forgotten profession will be lost and your decision will not be undone if you change your mind, so be sure you want to change. Every character can learn any or all of the secondary professions.
Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Enchanting, Engineering, Herbalism, Inscription, Jewelcrafting, Leatherworking, Mining, Skinning, and Tailoring are primary professions. Cooking, First Aid, and Fishing are secondary professions.
Most primary professions have capabilities that other characters need. Engineering and the secondary professions tend more towards allowing you to enhance or otherwise help yourself, and not so much benefit others, but it is possible to make money from them as well.
Basic types of professions, part 2
Professions generally fall into one of three types, although there is overlap. These types complement each other, as will be described below.
Gathering professions allow you to take things you find out in the world and convert them into resources you can store in your inventory or bank and sell or give to other players. Fishing, Herbalism, Mining, and Skinning are (mostly) gathering professions.
Crafting professions take raw materials (aka mats) and turn them into equipment or other items that are usable by characters. Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Cooking, Engineering, Jewelcrafting, Leatherworking, and Tailoring are crafting professions.
First Aid is both a crafting and service profession.
Any gathering or crafting profession you take will allow you to gather or craft items that you can sell through the trading channel or the Auction Houses. Services can only be marketed through the trading channel.
How professions complement each other
A very important concept to understand before you choose your primary professions is how the different types of professions complement each other. As a new character, you are going to have a limited amount of money you can use for funds to start your crafting empire, and you will need to start wisely right away to get the maximum benefit from your professions.
To put it as simply as possible, gathering professions generally produce materials that are used by a crafting profession in a complementary manner. Let us take a look at skinning and leatherworking.
As a skinner, your character will produce mostly leather from dead mobs that are skinnable through a quick, simple process. This leather isn't of much use to the average other character. It is not able to be clicked on to be used for anything, and pretty much just takes up space. Unless, that is, the other character is a leatherworker. Leatherworkers are able to take raw materials (in this case, leather) and turn them into usable items. For example, a leatherworker can take Light Leather and turn it into Light Armor Kits, which any character can then use.
Turning it around, you can see that a leatherworker who isn't also a skinner is at something of a disadvantage. They are dependent on others for the raw materials they need to create useful items they can sell. At higher levels this disadvantage can be reduced, as you may know other characters who can provide the materials you need to craft items, or you may have more money available to you to buy these mats yourself, but if you are a new character that wants to craft items, you will want to choose a gathering profession that is complementary to your crafting profession.
Here's a list of complementary professions:
|Gathering Profession||Crafting Profession||Notes|
|Fishing||Cooking||both are secondary and do not count against two profession limit|
|Herbalism||Alchemy||Fishing also provides some materials for Alchemy|
|Crafting Profession||Service Profession||Notes|
|Tailoring||Enchanting|| any item crafting can feed disenchanting, but |
tailoring does not require separate gathering
Who uses what
It is generally beneficial to make things your own character can use.
|(Gathering Profession)||Crafting Profession||Creates||Used By|
|(none)||Tailoring||cloth armor||mages, priests, and warlocks|
|(Skinning)||Leatherworking||leather armor||druids, hunters, rogues, and shamans|
|(Mining)||Blacksmithing||metal armor|| paladins, warriors and Death knights |
(also hunters and shamans from level 40 to level 70)
|(Crafting Profession)||Service Profession||Creates||Used By|
Hunters and shamans can wear mail armor at level 40. That can be produced by both leatherworkers and by blacksmiths. There is no pressing need for a hunter or shaman leatherworker to switch to blacksmithing at level 40.
- See also: Choosing your primary professions
How to make money from your professions
Now that you have two primary professions that you like, and maybe the secondary professions, how do you go about getting gold from them?
Generally, the items you are able to craft at lower levels of your professions are going to be more or less worthless to anyone but you. There are some notable exceptions, however – every character wants to have as much inventory space as possible, so bags (crafted by tailors) always sell, and healing and mana potions (crafted by alchemists) are useful from very low levels. But even so, at early levels these will not sell for more than a few silver at most.
To get a higher level in a profession, you have to use it. This is the only way to advance your skill level. That means going out and gathering mats for gathering professions, and taking mats and crafting items for crafting professions. For crafting professions, return to the trainer often and learn the new patterns that become available to you as you advance your skill.
To make money from professions you will need to identify the items you can gather or create that other characters need, and then go out and gather them, or gather the mats and then craft them. These items are different for every profession, and prices can vary widely by realm, but every profession has them. (Refer to individual profession pages for tips on what sells well.)
As a general rule, however, you won't be able to craft the real money makers until you get over 75 skill points in your profession. This involves going beyond the apprentice level of your skill, which you start at, and learning the journeyman level. Journeyman is available at skill 50 for every profession (although it also requires level 5 for some), and allows you to go beyond skill 75 for that profession. There is a small cost associated with the training, and not every trainer will be able to train you to journeyman, but if they can't they will generally be able to tell you where to go to get it.
The recipes, patterns, and schematics you learn from the trainer can be useful (and valuable), but remember that everyone else with your profession has access to these recipes too. Be sure to scan the auction house often for recipes that you can learn but that aren't available from trainers. Some of these – for example the Swiftness Potion recipe for alchemists, or the Savory Deviate Delight recipe for cooks – teach you how to make items that can sell for many gold, due to their popularity and relative rarity. But there are also some common, trainer-learned recipes that can be relied on to sell regularly, such as Linen and Woolen Bags.
As a gatherer (assuming you also gather), check the auction house prices for the items you can gather often, and (if you can) store what you gather in your bank until prices are high. If you have surplus from gathering that you don't need as a crafter, sell it on the Auction House and free up some space in your bank. Specific items such as fish or other cooking mats can sell surprisingly well to higher-level (and richer) characters that are looking to advance neglected skills quickly, but this can also be very hit-and-miss. Selling your unneeded items (gathered or crafted) to vendors is a much more reliable (although not as protentially profitable) way to earn back some money while still advancing your skills.
Finally, as you improve your professions, remember to keep checking for more recipes and higher levels of skill available. After you reach 125 skill points (and for some professions reach level 10) you can learn expert level in your profession, at 200 (and level 35) you can learn artisan (however secondary professions require 225 for artisan), and at 300 (and level 45) you can learn master. Each level allows you to take your profession to ever higher (and more profitable) heights. But the exact same principles apply for making money at high skill levels as they do at lower levels: identify what people want and what they're willing to pay for it, learn recipes that allow you to craft profitable items, and buy low and sell high.
Finally remember that you can always abandon a profession if you decide it isn't for you, although that means you lose all the progress you've had with it, even if you pick it back up again at a later date.
Enchanting is a little different from other professions, as it only produces a few actual items (mostly wands and oils). Enchanters generally make money by enhancing the items of other characters by applying enchantments to the items, which is done through a trade window. Enchanting is an excellent profession, but it is a very poor choice initially. Rare, powerful enchantments can be sold for hundreds of gold at high levels, but low level enchantment have low benefits and have very little demand.
It is very difficult for a starting enchanter to not spend a great deal of money in improving enchanting. Enchanting requires at least uncommon items to feed it. Until you are routinely harvesting disenchantable drops or can craft or buy disenchantables, you can not effectively level enchanting. Expect it to be a money sink for a long time.
There is a steady market among other enchanters and their customers for enchantment materials you harvest through disenchanting items, so as long as you can farm the disenchantables and sell off some of the enchanting materials, you can make this work for you.
Choosing two gathering professions
But what if you don't care about making things? What if you just want to make some money, so you can buy things other characters have made if you need them? In this case, you might want to think about taking two gathering professions and then selling the mats your character gathers. For example, since you're going to be killing a lot of mobs anyway, why not skin them while you're at it? And then taking mining or herbalism can provide another source of easy income. However, you'll be dependent on the market for mats, which can be very volatile, unlike the market for crafted items, which tends to be much more stable – meaning that you can maybe sell a stack of metal ore one day for several gold, but tomorrow you might only get a fraction of that amount.
Choosing two crafting professions
A tactic generally done by only the elite few with a lot of money to spend. Taking two crafting professions (Such as Enchanting and Engineering) relies completely on materials from the Auction House, other players, or from an alt. Because of this, taking dual crafting professions is extremely costly (unless you go the alt route); much more so than a crafting/gathering pair. However, a large plus is that your productivity doubles, and you can offer twice the benefits to yourself and others. Note that if you use an alt to harvest, it probably makes more sense to have each toon do one harvest and one craft; although two crafts will grant one of the toons the exclusives from two crafts - make sure that the exclusives complement, not overlap the same slot.
Cherry picking beginning crafting professions
This only works at low levels, from around level 5 or 6, where you first leave the beginning area. Learn skinning and either mining or herbs. Harvest while you level, and harvest linen as well. When you have a stockpile in your bank (helpful to check the recipes, decide what you want to make, and make sure you have enough), drop one or both gathering and switch to leatherworking and blacksmithing or alchemy. Key items every low character wants to make are (helps every class), (buffs melee blades, including axes) and/or (buffs melee clubs, including staves), and (but these tend to be very cheap and available at the auction house), (helps every class), and (not very useful for some, but it works with Elixir of Minor Defense, you can make it, and it does help your melee).
This only works at low levels; by the teen levels the beginning crafted gear is inadequate. Move on to a longer term strategy.